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4 November 2015 newsletter

PIP Medicals Unfit For Purpose Plus Claimants Lives Worth Less Than A Fiver

Dear Reader,

In this edition we look at PIP medical reports and conclude that they are generally unfit for purpose. We’ve also created a sample PIP PA4 medical report that members can download.

Plus we reveal that the DWP is now so confident that it will nePersonal Independence Payment sample medical reportver be held accountable for claimant’s deaths, that it doesn’t think it’s worth £5 of staff time to write a life-saving memo, even after assuring a coroner they would do so.

PIP MEDICAL REPORT FORMS
You may never have seen one. Or you may only have ever seen your own.

Which is why we’ve now published a sample PIP medical report form.

If you’ve never had a PIP medical it gives you the chance to learn in advance what kind of evidence the health professional is going to be collecting about you. Which means you can prepare more effectively to try to ensure that they get all the evidence they need to compile an accurate report.

If you already have your own PIP medical report, it gives you the opportunity to compare it with ours. Our sample is by no means a good report. It’s intended to be about average and there are certainly lots of grounds on which we would challenge it.

But if yours is even less detailed than our sample one, then you have got something you can definitely challenge at a hearing.

We haven’t yet finished updating our guide to challenging a PIP medical report. Though most of it will remain the same there are some issues we want to address in more detail and there have been some changes to the layout of the medical report. The new guide will be out before the next newsletter.

But there are a few issues which stood out for us, which we can forewarn you about now.

IGNORING FURTHER MEDICAL EVIDENCE
Use of further medical evidence was very poor. In the majority of cases, reports from other health professionals, such as GPs or consultants, are listed in the ‘evidence considered’ section and then simply never referred to again. Therefore any contradictions between the evidence of the PIP assessor and other health professionals are never brought to the attention of the decision maker or dealt with.

Failure to address contradictions in the evidence would be sufficient for a report to be found unacceptable using the DWP’s own PIP audit criteria and would certainly not impress a tribunal.

NotfitpuposeNOT SAYING WHERE EVIDENCE CAME FROM
Some HPs were careful to explain where each item of evidence came from. In particular, was it the claimant questionnaire or something allegedly said during the face-to-face interview?

But many simply used phrases like: ‘ He reports that . . ‘ or ‘Reported difficulties are consistent with . . .’

It’s vital that the decision maker knows where the evidence came from. Because if there is a contradiction between what the claimant said in their questionnaire and what they allegedly said at the assessment then this should be considered both by the health professional and by the decision maker.

The fact that the PIP medical report does not have a section for setting out which options the claimant selected in their questionnaire makes it even easier for contradictions to be glossed over.

But it also makes it easier for the report to be challenged at a tribunal

For more on this, see the link below to the full article, including our five top tips to help ensure you are prepared for your medical, and ‘Who’s better: Atos or Capita?’.

CLAIMANTS LIVES VALUED AT LESS THAN £5
The DWP have made a mockery of the death of Michael O’Sullivan and made further claimant deaths more likely by not spending £5 on writing a life-saving memo, even after telling a coroner they would do so. Their failure is a clear indication of the way in which the DWP now believe they can never be held to account for the deaths of claimants.

MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN
Regular readers will be aware of the tragic tale of Michael O’Sullivan who commited suicide in 2013. He had been suffering from anxiety and depression for a number of years.

Following the inquest into his death in January 2014, the coroner issued a Regulation 28 report which is designed to prevent future deaths occurring in similar circumstances.

In the report the coroner stated that:

“I found that the trigger for Mr O ’Sullivan’s suicide was his recent assessment by a DWP doctor as being fit for work .”

The Coroner went on to say that she was concerned that further deaths would occur unless action was taken by the DWP.

In their response to the coroner, the DWP admitted that the health professional who assessed Mr O’Sullivan had failed to follow clear guidance on dealing with claimants with suicidal ideation.

The very last words in their response were that they would “issue a reminder to staff about the guidance related to suicidal ideation that has been described in this report."

Benefits and Work has now discovered that no such reminder was ever issued by the DWP. Instead, they now claim that reviewing and updating the 210 page Handbook issued to health professionals more than a year later, was sufficient to ‘remind staff’

NOT WORTH A FIVER
Image of five pound noteThe reality is that the DWP could have sent a memo to Atos, asking them to remind all their health professionals about the vital importance of following guidance on suicidal ideation. Atos could then have circulated that to their assessors.

It would have taken a senior DWP manager no more than 10 minutes to send such a memo. Senior DWP staff earn around £50,000 - £60,000 a year.

So, sending the life-saving memo would have cost the DWP no more than about £5.

But they never did it.

And now they are doing their best to cover-up that fact.

MANSLAUGHTER
The DWP’s callousness makes a nonsense of the claim by ministers, and the prime minister himself, that the government takes such deaths very seriously.

It also makes a mockery of the coroner’s inquest procedure and of the anguish of Mr O’Sullivan’s family.

The truth is that the DWP’s utter lack of accountability makes it all too likely that similar tragedies will go on happening until the day someone at the DWP, or one of the companies it employs, faces a charge of manslaughter.

For many claimants, that day cannot come too soon.

Benefits and Work will not accept the DWP’s response to its Freedom of Information request. We believe that the correct response is ‘We cannot provide you with the documents you requested because no such documents exist.’

And we will take this matter to a tribunal if necessary, to get the DWP to admit the truth.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 

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BENEFITS NEWS
Claimants Lives Valued At Less Than £5 As DWP Ignore Pledge To Coroner
The DWP have made a mockery of the death of Michael O’Sullivan and made further claimant deaths more likely by not spending £5 on writing a life-saving memo.

PIP medical report forms – review and sample
You may never have seen one. Or you may only have ever seen your own.

Malnutrition Britain – claimant hunger is on the rise
NHS hospitals are to begin to offer food parcels to patients they believe are suffering from malnutrition, whilst the DWP has finally acknowledged, by its deeds if not its words, that benefits cuts cause foodbank use.

Quick tax credits cuts calculator
Unison have created a simple online tax credit cuts calculator to allow you to work out how much, if anything, you will lose when the changes to tax credits are introduced next April.

DWP yellow card for sanctions scheme widely condemned
The introduction of a pilot scheme to trial ‘yellow cards’ for benefits sanctions next year has been widely condemned as not going far enough to make sanctions fairer, even by the companies making profits from welfare to work contracts.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.


Thanks for advice – PIP tribunal won today
“Thanks for all of the information and advice provided over last six months. I had my tribunal today and won my PIP benefit back…Without questioning me I was award straight away my mobility standard rate by the dr and judge. Then after questioning me what I do daily and what support they awarded me enhanced for care. Awarded 3 years…Once again thanks for this website and to all who run it.”

PIP success!
“I was on DLA; low rate care & high rate mobility & was invited to apply for PIP. They've awarded me the same & after all my friends' PIP horror stories i'm in shock. I expected a BIG battle. Decision granted Just three weeks after my home assessment . . . I want to thank this amazing board for the help, & information. i was so upset by the things my friends had gone through i don't think i'd have applied without your help here. Thank you!”

DLA to PIP
“I have chronic fatigue syndrome and have consistently struggled with filling out ESA and DLA forms…I have found the Benefits and Works guides of great use and am sure that without them I would not have won my last two appeals…”

The ‘Benefits’ of this website!
“We have just been notified that our son has successfully been transferred unopposed from Incapacity Benefit to the Support Group for ESA ....... and this success can only be apportioned to the guidance and advise provided by Benefits and Work.
We followed the suggested format and phrasing and completed each section step by step- repeating where necessary…we followed the advise from Benefits and Work and submitted letters from friends and family who were able to provide evidence…Without the help from Benefits and Work we could not have done our sons application justice … it was worth the effort and time as the Benefits and Work format works! Once again many thanks for your assistance and guidance. Definitely a recommended service!

DLA awarded
“Hi there I would just like to say a huge thank you to this fantastic resource of a website!!”

Successful PIP
“I just wanted to leave feedback. I applied for PIP for my eldest son about 3 months ago for his depression, anxiety and seizures not really filled with much hope and actually nervous about the whole thing. He was given a date for an assessment despite all medical evidence stating this would be a bad idea as it would cause him great distress…[The assessor] told me she was a psychiatric nurse and thought it odd given his medical information provided that he was even asked to have an assessment. She then said she would ask me a few questions. She did and was actually very nice… I think we got incredibly lucky because despite our concerns this lady was very nice and incredibly kind. We were also lucky in that we actually had an assessor qualified in the area relevant to his case. I wish every assessor was this professional…I wanted to leave this feedback to say thank you to this site for their help and to let people know that not all assessors are awful and that sometimes you do get someone who is sensible and willing to see past the red tape”

PIP success first time
“Hi everyone, I received my PIP result. I got enhanced rate for both living and mobility categories. I did not have to appeal: this was the first result I received on my PIP claim…I wanted to let you folks know because when I was going through the process I felt alone and like there was no hope. There were so few out-and-out good results. So, please know: there is hope. Great results can happen… Buy and read the guide from this website on how to fill out your form. It's money well spent…I know not everyone will get the result they're looking for first time. And also some of it is down to luck, too. But it does happen. Stay wonderful, folks.”

ESA Support Group success
“After waiting an agonising 9 months from submittal of the ESA ATOS form, until my assessment, I have been placed in the support group…Thank you Benefits and Work for the invaluable support that you offer to those in need”

Sanction success
“Daughter finished degree, signed on, got UC. Then got part time job working Tues and Thur, WFI's on Tues so advisor changed day to Wed, so far so good, Then 2 months later gets letter threatening sanction as missed a Tues appointment!. Rings up, explains worked on that day, not a Good Enough Reason as didn't phone up, got sanction….Sent in appeal stating facts are in her file…. They backed down and relented after looking at "new evidence" that was there in the beginning! Sanction cancelled…Only able to fight the stupidity through knowing right procedures as found on this site. Many thanks”

Attendance Allowance success
“Applied for AA for father-in-law using your guide, he's got vascular dementia, got full amount day and night care. Thank you”

BOOST YOUR ESA, PIP OR DLA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY
Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 7958

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Good luck,

The Office Team

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

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